Sunday, 26 August 2012

Journal of a Novice Witch by Earthshine

This is the first of my new monthly journal on my life journey as a novice witch.  This first one is simply a résumé of how I came to be a novice witch and how I learn my craft.  It gives a brief summary of what I have learnt to-date but will go into more detail of my experiences and learning in the following months.  I hope you enjoy following this journey with me.  I would be happy to hear from anyone whether you are an experienced witch of many years or starting out like me.  I am always grateful for advice, tips and feedback.

Journal of a Novice Witch
By Earthshine

Now forgive me for saying this but if it had been foretold, when I was in my early twenties,  that when I reached my forties, my life-path would change and I would be living and studying the life of a witch, I would have fallen off my chair laughing.  Don’t be ridiculous, I would have thought, witches belong to the world of fiction, films and children’s books like Meg & Mog.  I was very narrow minded back then!!

But life events conspired to make me sit up and think about my life, where I was going and what I wanted to do with it.  I started to feel deep within that there was something I was missing, some path or direction I needed to follow to feel rooted and whole.  I began interacting more with the natural world; I’d always loved animals and nature so this felt easy and right. I became interested in complementary therapies and read up on different therapies and ways to enhance your health and wellbeing in a natural and holistic way.  I went on to train in Reiki, Crystal Healing and Flower and Vibrational Essence Therapy, all beautiful vibrational therapies that work on our energy fields.  However, all the while I was studying I had this feeling that this was leading me somewhere beyond simply being a holistic therapist.

I felt this desire, or need, or ‘something’ pulling me towards something as yet unidentified and I found myself buying a few books on paganism.  Being a relatively solitary person I found Hedgewitchery really interesting and bought some books on this too. Although I was drawn to the naturalness of it, it all looked a bit daunting and the thought of spells, rituals, athames, chalices and so forth scared me slightly, so the books ended up on my bookshelf gathering dust, and I ended up joining a local Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist group.  However, despite the beauty and gentleness of this Buddhist way of life I never felt rooted in it, it was like I didn’t really belong, like it was spirituality for another culture, and there was still this pull coming from deep within me, and I found myself reading my pagan and Hedgewitch books again, and I definitely felt that this was the right path for me.

And so I left my Buddhist practice and my life as a novice witch began.  I started to study and research, drawing on knowledge from books and the internet.  But there was so much to learn, so much to think about and new ways to think about things.  Where do you begin?  How do you know you are doing it right?

Now there are many things involved in the path that are straightforward and easy to incorporate into your daily life, such as respecting and working with nature and the natural cycle of things, and I was doing a lot of this anyway.  But then there are Sabbats and Esbats, and God and Goddesses, so many of them, and many with names I couldn’t pronounce (and am still learning); there are spells and rituals and casting and closing a circle, now that was scary, what if I cast a circle and let the wrong energy in, or I didn’t close it properly?  What if I was opening up myself to some dark energy and didn’t know how to handle it?

There were so many questions whirling round in my head, which isn’t good news when you’re of an obsessive nature, so what to do, do I go it alone and use trial and error and intuition, yes I could do that, but I felt I needed a bit more guidance and knowledge from others to help set me off and build my confidence.  But where do you begin?  Do you type in ‘Witches in Dorset’ (I live in Dorset) on Google?  Well actually I did do this and it brought up historical info, not the name of my local Witch group!!  So this didn’t help.

I did however make connections through friends I’ve made through my vibrational energy work and started to enhance my knowledge a little here. But I was also looking for more practical experience to aid my confidence and my knowledge, and also to meet like-minded people even though I am following a solitary path. 

This time I did an online search for ‘Pagans Dorset’ and the first result was the Dorset Grove, result, a local Druid group that ran open rituals to celebrate the wheel of the year.  Although it is a Druid group they welcome all Pagans whatever path you follow, and they all looked very friendly in their photos on the web-site too!!  So I duly emailed and received a prompt welcoming email in return. 

Now I have to admit that I didn’t attend the first ritual that came up, when push came to shove I bottled out, too self conscious and scared to go. Goddess knows why, and now I have to admit to feeling rather silly about feeling like this, as when I did attend my first ritual with the Dorset Grove, in the very spiritual setting of Knowlton Church, the experience was beautiful, the people were friendly, down to earth and welcoming.  There were lot of smiles, laughter, vibrant energy, and a beautiful ritual, my very first ritual, to celebrate Beltane.  I was gifted with a stunning staff and wand, and cake!  Now I have a feeling that cake will feature quite a bit in my witch path, and I will talk more in this in a bit.

I came away from my first ritual feeling blessed, energized and happy, and also with the confidence to do my own simple rituals at home having experienced a proper official one.  I was also raring for the next ritual which happened to be just as special, as it was at Stonehenge celebrating the Summer Solstice, and I where I would meet, in person for the first time, some more lovely and special people who I am just about to talk about.

In addition, to joining the Dorset Grove I also found the lovely Kitchen Witch team and their online Kitchen Witch forum.  This is full of information covering all areas of witchery and a fantastic resource that is updated regularly, and is ideal for making contact with others following the same path.  Not long after I joined the forum they started up their online School of Natural Witchery, and I was one of the first pupils to join as it is perfect for the novice like me, or for anyone wanting to study natural witchcraft. 

Starting at the beginning they provide a structured programme to teach you the path of Kitchen Witchery, but what I like about it is that it is not learning by rote and reading alone, you are encouraged to research and experiment and bring your own interpretation of each subject to the course.  And, you receive constructive feedback on your lessons and positive encouragement at all times. 

The added bonus is that you can also learn what are called branch lessons which expand your knowledge and skills as you make your way through the main course work, I am currently studying tarot, runes and magical herbs!!  And….we have online rituals, chats and constant contact with the leadership team and other students, so have become a proper online witch community that you can join in with whenever you want to.  Oh, and the other thing which I referred to earlier, there is definitely a cake thing going on in the Kitchen Witch School.  I’ve come to think that the only pre-requisite to joining the school is that you either like eating cake or talking about it; seeing as I like both I think I fit in well.

The Kitchen Witch School has been perfect for me as like many, I am working, running a home and walking three dogs three times a day, and time and money is limited.  Therefore I can study at my own pace, in my own time and incorporate what I have learnt into my everyday life.

Thus far I have studied energy working, meditation, grounding and centring, which I have to admit I already knew as part of my vibrational work, so I probably had an easier time on these lessons than those that haven’t worked with them before, as they can take some mastering – but don’t tell teacher!!  I have written about Clear Quartz and I have studied my first deity, Sulis, or Minerva as she is also known.  And most importantly I have learnt that I was already working with energy and tools that are very important to the life of a witch.  And the fact, as I mentioned earlier, that I felt my holistic studies were leading me beyond that of just a therapist seems to have been right, and in a way they were preparing me for my life as a witch, giving me some essential skills that I would require, and this has been very enlightening. That the course also requires the study of crystals is great too as it makes me go back and research my crystals again, and this is excellent for deepening my relationship with my crystals.

And so I feel my journey as a witch is truly now underway, and I look forward to following and living this path.

For now I say farewell and wish you a happy Mabon.

In my next lesson at the Kitchen Witch School I will be studying the Wheel of the Year. 
I am so looking forward to this and will be writing about it, along with my Mabon celebrations and other experiences in my next instalment of the Journal of a Novice Witch. xx

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